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5 Flights Up
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 5 Flights Up centers on a long, happy marriage that's disrupted when the couple decides they must sell the Brooklyn apartment that's been their home for decades. Over the course of a few days, they reminisce, try to plan their future, and second-guess their decisions. They bicker, though the other ways they resolve conflict reveal their strong connection. Expect occasional swearing (including "s--t" and one "f--k"), plus some social drinking. There's also discussion of the hunt for a suspected terrorist; topics including suicide bombings and other related issues. A large painting of a nude woman is seen several times. The film's themes make it a better fit for older teens and adults, though there's little content that makes it inappropriate for younger teens.
What's the story?
Ruth (Diane Keaton) and Alex (Morgan Freeman) have been living in the same Brooklyn walk-up apartment for four decades, but now they're looking to move. The many stairs are tougher to navigate, and their neighborhood has become desirable, meaning they could sell for more than they'd ever expected. Over the course of several days, they endure a stream of potential buyers evaluating the apartment, while searching for a new space to call home. It's a stress-inducing exercise that forces the long-term couple to address some important issues in their marriage.
Is it any good?
Not much happens in 5 FLIGHTS UP, and there's little resolution. The movie shows a long-married couple during a time of great change; moving is the kind of big experience that taxes any relationship, even a kind and loving connection like Ruth and Alex's. They fight, but they do so with love. Freeman and Keaton have a great rapport, bringing to life the kind of happy people that you'd want to hang out with. Their bond is the best part of the movie.
The rest of the film disappoints. Cynthia Nixon's pushy real-estate agent, though improved by the talented actress, feels like a stock character, as do the the stream of lookie-loos who stop by to check out the apartment. (The real estate "issues" seem manufactured at best, and inaccurate at worst.) The bigger issue is that there seems to be little at stake here. The movie never makes it really clear why Alex and Ruth want to sell their home -- besides being on a high floor, that is -- so when they start to have second thoughts, we wonder why they were doing it in the first place. In the end, the movie just shows a few days in the life of a couple we don't mind spending time with but don't truly get to know, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ruth and Alex's marriage. What makes them a strong couple? How do they compare to other couples you've seen in movies and TV shows?
How do Ruth and Alex resolve their conflicts? Have you tried to do the same in similar circumstances?
What role does the hunt for the suspected terrorist play in the story? Does that add edge to the movie's content?
For kids who love drama and romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.